The Macon lawmaker who sponsored Georgia’s medical cannabis registry law now wants a statewide vote on growing cannabis plants in the state.
State Rep. Allen Peake said he is going to ask fellow lawmakers for a 2018 referendum that would allow growing cannabis for medicinal purposes. He said he plans to file legislation at the state Capitol on the proposed referendum as early as next week.
“We would let the citizens of the state decide whether to go down this path or not,” Peake said.
Georgia law allows some patients to possess a liquid made from cannabis, but people have no legal way to buy a product prohibited by federal law. States such as Colorado that allow recreational or medicinal cultivation are supposed to keep their products inside their borders.
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Peake has championed the in-state growth of cannabis plants and the manufacture of some products for sale to Georgia patients. He said the liquid has worked for people who need it.
But opposition to in-state growth has been strong, notably from Gov. Nathan Deal, a fellow Republican, and from law enforcement agencies.
The governor has expressed skepticism that the industry could be kept under control. Some law enforcement bosses see medical cannabis as the start of a slippery slope to the recreational kind. Some opponents also say that anything that is billed as medicine should go through standard federal vetting for medicines.
Peake said he’s optimistic that he can get the votes of the two-thirds of legislators that the idea needs before the question can appear on Georgia’s ballots.
“The sky has not fallen since we passed our laws” on medical cannabis possession, he said.
The Macon lawmaker said he prefers “limited licensure” for medical cannabis growth — allowing only a handful of tightly regulated growers. More than half the states allow medical cannabis cultivation, and many follow a limited licensure model.
Peake said he is working on another piece of legislation, one that would expand the list of diagnoses for which a patient could possess medical cannabis. He’s looking at opening the medical cannabis registry to people who have autism, AIDS, intractable pain, post-traumatic stress disorder or Tourette’s syndrome.
The annual session of the state Legislature starts Jan. 9.
Maggie Lee: @maggie_a_lee